Last weekend we were invited by the Kidderminster Heritage Opportunities Group to take part in a special event celebrating the 175 anniversary of the Penny Post. Kidderminster is the home town of Sir Rowland Hill, the man who led the campaign for universal penny postage.
The event took place at the Town Hall in the heart of Kidderminster. There were free drop-in activities, exhibitions and films for people to enjoy. I went along with an actor from Big Wheel Theatre Company who brought the story of Rowland Hill to life.
A great time was had by all. I thought I’d share some photos of the day with you.
Sir Rowland Hill poses in front of his statue
Sir Rowland meets a local retired postie
Making Rowland Hill top hats helped by Natasha from Big Wheel
Dressing up as early Victorian letter carriers.
A finished Penny Postage inspired Top Hat
Me. Cranking the engine of a post van
If you’d like to find out more about Rowland Hill and Penny Postage – our new learning resource Pop It In The Post tells the story of how the Penny Black stamp changed our world. The resource includes an interactive game and a film in which Rowland Hill explains his big idea.
-Sally Sculthorpe, Learning Officer
As we move into the final design stages for The Postal Museum and Mail Rail, a new family friendly attraction opening in central London in 2016, we’ve been asking ourselves the question, how do families engage with our stories and collections? Our Community Learning Officer, Hannah Clipson tells us about the work she and Exhibitions Officer Dominique Gardner have been doing to answer this question.
Some postal inspired artwork!
Pop it in the post: your world at the end of the street , our latest touring exhibition, is the first we’ve designed that’s aimed at children. With this in mind we decided to launch it at Islington Museum, located just around the corner from the BPMA and popular with local families. It was the perfect place to engage these future visitors to The Postal Museum and get their feedback on what we have to offer them. The exhibition explores how the communications revolution came about as the result of the introduction of the Penny Black stamp and pillar boxes. From the workers who made it possible to the crazy and elaborate new types of post being sent – there are plenty of fascinating and surprising themes; perfect for sparking the curiosity and imaginations of young minds!
This little boy’s imagination is sparked- or maybe its the paints!
Alongside the exhibition we ran some drop-in family activities during the Easter holidays. Recent research conducted at our Museum of the Post Office in the Community exhibition at Blists Hill Victorian Town showed that children enjoyed engaging with the uniform in the collection, particularly the hats. Therefore, this was chosen as the inspiration for the take-away craft activity. Children made their own top hat mask and played with the postal themed board games and beautiful jigsaw puzzles specially made for the exhibition. One group visiting from a children’s holiday club stayed with us for 2 hours, with almost every child trying on the handling postal uniforms, which bodes well for the dressing up interactive experience we have planned for the new museum!
Getting messy with paints
The exhibition then played host to a much younger audience at the early years workshop for the under 5s. This time we used mail art as the inspiration – with children as young as 2 creating their own beautifully decorated envelopes to send through the post. It was hard to tell who enjoyed it the most, the parents or the children…but it shows our collection can make for a fun shared learning experience between people of all ages, regardless of their personal experience of using the postal service.
Pop it in the post: your world at the end of the street will be displayed at Islington Museum until Saturday 2 May. After that, the exhibition heads to Bruce Castle Museum from July to September, and in October it heads north to Mansfield Museum – winner of the Kids in Museums Family-Friendly Award in 2011.
-Hannah Clipson, Community Learning Officer